Balancing quality and speed in healthcare information management

Healthcare is an intensely document-driven industry, and without a proper way to handle the growing inflow, health information management (HIM) professionals are feeling the heat. The regulatory environment, changing buyer expectations, and evolving technology are collectively forcing these professionals to push the limits of their capabilities. And in this industry, time is of the essence—in order to stay afloat, clinical documents must be analyzed and stored as electronic medical/health records (EMR/EHR) immediately upon arriving to the lab.

Furthermore, cutthroat competition exists within the healthcare industry. To gain an edge, a company must offer a shorter turnaround time without sacrificing flexible prices or packaging options. As a result, companies are searching for form-processing solutions that are both affordable and on-demand.

Consider the example of SureHire, a Canada-based occupational testing firm. To ensure fast turnaround, the company needed to expand. But there’s a  catch--onboarding more full-time employees would decrease margins. John Hawes, Chief Communication Officer at SureHire, explains the conundrum this way: 

“The biggest challenge for us was to manage our results in a timely fashion. But with so much human input on every result, we couldn’t improve turnaround time without hiring significant amounts of people.” 

The answer, SureHire eventually realized, was to engage a form-processing solution capable of scaling to match the company’s ambitions. 

This challenge is familiar to document-driven businesses--how does a company strike the right balance between higher accuracy at a suitable throughput rate and a reasonable cost per document?

Of course, a strictly “human” solution can’t solve this challenge because the most expensive data problems are the ones that humans have to touch. Traditional humans-only data entry can maintain high accuracy with double-key verification, but that accuracy inevitably brings down the throughput rate and makes turnaround time skyrocket. Indeed, it is not uncommon in a document-driven business for humans-only data entry to take several hours--if not days--to extract, capture, and process data from scanned-form images.

So is a technology-only solution the answer? For SureHire, such a solution offers less expensive results but—crucially—could not guarantee the level of accuracy that the company needed. 

Granted, emerging technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are finally starting to grapple with the healthcare industry’s specific data-capture challenges. After all, health information management isn’t just about storing and analyzing a high volume of documents. If only it was so simple. Analysts estimate that 80-90% of health information documents are unstructured--which is to say, these (typically) text-heavy documents do not organize data in any predefined manner. 

However, technology-only solutions aren’t fully there yet. RPA is still prone to too many errors precisely because the technology--and others like it--is too machine-dependent. 

To help companies balance turnaround time and quality, CloudFactory uses a strategy that has largely remained unexploited: “automation with a human touch.” With the right mix of human intelligence, accuracy levels markedly improve. Just ask John Hawes of SureHire:  

“Before CloudFactory, we had accuracy issues because we only had one worker reviewing a whole file. Now our results aren’t only faster and less expensive--they’re also better. At CloudFactory, the work gets split up and divided so that multiple people have the opportunity to review a given file. With so many fresh pairs of eyes on each file, we’ve watched our accuracy go up considerably."  

Companies are learning to maximize efficiency by changing how they perform day-to-day work. At CloudFactory, “automation with a human touch” delivers superior customer experiences through better products, services and processes. CloudFactory’s follow-the-sun microtasking technology and unique workforce model solve the most expensive data problems swiftly, accurately, and inexpensively.  

Busy with the pressing day-to-day demands of data processing, privacy, and security,  HIM professionals can be forgiven their reluctance to try new solutions. However, healthcare information management is changing--whether one likes it or not. And engaging the CloudFactory strategy--automation with a human touch--will allow HIM professionals to deliver greater value in today’s largely “on-demand” environment. 

So this leads us to the question: how do you manage the delicate balance between accuracy and throughput rates? We would love to hear from you!

(Image Credit: Graeme)

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